The Second Time Around

Posted on: April 26th, 2012 by Kay Swatkowski

New grandmother, Barbara Johnson, holding her precious grandson, Elijah.

Extend a warm welcome to our guest blogger, Barbara Michalesko Johnson.  Barb and her husband of twenty-six years, Brad, make their home in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin with two of their daughters, Anna and Christine.  Their oldest daughter, Laura, is a resident of Madison and is the mother of their one and only adorable grandson, Elijah.  I know you will be encouraged by Barb’s story.

Welcome, Barb.  Thank you for sharing  your own personal experience.

The Second Time Around

When my oldest daughter asked if I would sing for her wedding, I was touched.  How many twenty-somethings today would want their mothers providing wedding music?  Several years later, when she and  her husband asked if I would help care for my someday grandchild, I was touched again, though some thought I was “touched in the head”.  “Why would you want to do that all over again?” they asked.

The variety of comments I received about our plans was interesting.  They spanned all the way from, “Are you crazy?” to “What a privilege!”  Many wondered how I would fill up “all that free time”.  I was nervous about caring for an infant again.  My daughter was planning on breastfeeding, but I would use a bottle after she returned to work.  How would I comfort a baby that I couldn’t breastfeed?

I had to learn how to drive on the expressway!  That had always been a particular fear of mine and now I had to drive twice a week for more than two hours each way.  I would be spending the weekdays at their place and coming home on the weekends.  My husband travels for his job and is gone anyway, but my two other twenty-something daughters would be alone in the house during the week.

My greatest reservation was whether I would be intruding on my daughter’s and son-in-law’s young married life.  What would it be like having the mother-in-law around all the time?  Multiple generations in one household may have been the norm at one time, but not any longer.

Several months later my daughter announced that she was pregnant, and  “someday” became “soon”.  We started making definite plans.  I announced at work that I would be leaving in nine months. My daughter and son-in-law bought a house with me in mind.  The finished basement was perfect:  bedroom, bath and living area.  I would be able to have a retreat when I (or they) needed alone time.

The day finally came when my daughter announced that she was in labor and on the way to the hospital.  In the labor room, I asked if she really wanted me to be present at the birth.  “You will play such an important part in his life, why shouldn’t you be here when it begins?” she said.  Witnessing the entry of Elijah Dean into the world is one memory that will always stay with me:  grandmotherhood had begun.

Two months later, I began the weekly trips.  By five o’clock each day, I was tired and ready to hand baby back to mom and dad.  I had to remind myself that I had the better deal:  my only real responsibility was caring for this baby during the day.  I would sometimes cook and do a bit of light cleaning, but generally, my grandson was getting most of my attention.

As for “all that free time,”  there wasn’t that much of it!  He took 30-minute naps and required lots of jiggling and juggling.  Feeding times, though, were the best.  His face gazing up at mine confirmed the rightness of my decision.

He is four months old now and starting to vocalize, roll and interact.  He is looking at books, in mirrors, and at the world with interest.  The speed with which he changes is breathtaking!  I am no longer nervous about driving or changing diapers again. This is an open-ended arrangement–we haven’t really decided on how long I will be caring for my grandson–but I’m glad I am!

Grandma, do you have a personal story to share? Contact Kay at for more information on guest blogging.

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2 Responses

  1. Connie says:

    It is wonderful to be invited by your daughter, you must be a very special mom to her. There is nothing in the world as wonderful as being a grandmother. I too am a care giving gramma and it is challenging at times! You will get in the groove though, with the first one it seems too hard but you can do it! I have 9 times now! You will be glad you did and blessed beyond your expectations!

  2. Kay, what a wonderful idea to put in guest grandmas’! Barbara, you have a sweet life…how thankful you must be to nurture and watch your little guy. I share your joy having 8 myself…God Bless…me

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